NAB Perspectives: Sony’s New Spectral Layers Holds Promise for Audio Surgery

Sony Creative Software quietly (that is, in a back room at the booth) showed an interesting new software system that sports-audio post producers will find very useful. Spectral Layers displays audio in a frequency-spectrum format and allows the user to target a very specific part of it, isolate it, and flip the phase, essentially cancelling it out without disturbing the audio frequencies around the target spectrum.

Sound Design Manager/Demo Engineer Mike Scheibing showed SVG that, besides allowing very precise editing of errors and other artifacts, the system can surgically remove music from around dialog or vice versa. The possibilities for maneuvering around rights-management issues in archival or even contemporary video clips is considerable: music licensing costs can be reduced or eliminated by removing the music without affecting the remaining dialog and sound effects.

“I can see this software really expanding what is now a very narrow niche industry in cleaning up sports clips where the music licenses are unclear or prohibitively expensive,” Scheibing explained.

Spectral Layers was developed by and licensed from third-party developer Divide Frame and will be marketed by Sony Creative Software. Release is expected by the third quarter. Price is yet to be determined but is expected to be about the same as Sony’s Forge audio software, which would put it below $500. A more elaborate version capable of working with 5.1-surround audio tracks will cost more.